Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 NO. 1 > Apr 7 1953

 (1) A county may not adopt a uniform building code by incorporating by reference such code in its publication of notice of hearing thereon. (2) An ordinance by the county commissioners attempting to enact such a building code by incorporation by reference would not be enforceable even though the penal provisions were omitted from such ordinance.

AGO 1961 NO. 1 > Jan 16 1961

The board of county commissioners is authorized to lease and operate a ferry connecting a public highway within the county with a public highway in the state of Oregon.

AGO 1990 NO. 6 > Jun 12 1990

1.  In Board of Estimate v. Morris the United States Supreme Court struck down a voting system in which borough presidents, who were voting members of the Board of Estimates, were elected by the voters of each borough and the boroughs varied greatly in population.  2. In San Juan County commissioners reside in commissioner districts that vary in population, however, the primary and general elections are conducted among voters of the county at large, not merely among the voters of the commissioner district.  The United States Supreme Court has approved such at large voting systems, even where the candidates were required to reside in districts that varied in population.  Board of Estimate v. Morris does not cast doubt on the validity of these decision. 3.  The United States Supreme Court has struck down at large voting systems on grounds that they impermissible diluted the electoral strength of racial or other political minorities in the at large district.  This is a factual question.  At present we are unaware of any facts tending to show this to be the case in San Juan County.

AGLO 1974 NO. 11 > Jan 25 1974

RCW 42.24.090 authorizes a board of county commissioners to prescribe by ordinance or resolution a mileage rate for the reimbursement of county officers and employees, other than those designated in RCW 36.17.020, for the use of their own private automobiles on official county business that is in excess of the ten cents per mile rate provided for in RCW 36.17.030.

AGO 1953 NO. 12 > Apr 21 1953

Since an ordinance levying excise taxes on real estate is concerned with revenues and is not a police regulation, the notice provisions as set forth in RCW 36.32.120 (7) do not apply; therefore the proposed ordinance will become effective even though the ten days' notice by publication has not been given.

AGLO 1977 NO. 12 > Mar 18 1977

The appointment of a budget officer by a board of county commissioners under RCW 36.32.440 does not relieve the county auditor of his responsibilities under RCW 36.40.010-36.40.050 in connection with the preparation of preliminary county budgets.

AGO 1951 NO. 13 > Apr 13 1951

County commissioners have the authority to license itinerant junk dealers.

AGO 1996 NO. 15 > Sep 4 1996

RCW 42.23.030 does not prohibit the service of one spouse as a county commissioner (and ex officio local health board member) while the other spouse serves as administrative officer of the health department; these positions are both public offices and the compensation for them does not arise out of contract.

AGLO 1974 NO. 15 > Feb 1 1974

A board of county commissioners acting pursuant to RCW 36.32.200 may, with the approval of a majority of the county superior court judges, employ an attorney to advise the board on general matters of its concern; such employment contract, however, may not extend beyond the term of the board.

AGO 1975 NO. 23 > Nov 14 1975

(1) Although a state legislator may, at public expense, inform his constituents on matters pending, proposed, enacted or defeated by the legislature (including the legislator's own views and/or voting record on such matters), such a legislator is prohibited by RCW 42.17.130 from using the facilities of his office or expending funds appropriated for legislative purposes to persuade or attempt to persuade his constituents or other persons to vote one way or another on a statewide ballot proposition; the question of whether a particular communication is or is not in violation of this statute will depend upon all of the facts of each case including, particularly, the timing thereof as related to the time of the election at which the measure or measures are to be voted upon.  (2) The governor, because of his constitutional responsibility to communicate with the legislature in order to ". . . recommend such measures as he shall deem expedient for their action," may use the facilities of his office to explain, or even, to some extent, to advocate, his official position on a statewide ballot measure pending before the people in their legislative capacity; in the case of other officers of the executive branch of the government, however, the legality of such action will depend upon the constitutional or statutory authority of the particular officer and the relationship of the ballot measure involved to the functions and duties of the office in question.  (3) These same principles also apply, with certain qualifications,21,, to officers of the legislative or executive branches of counties, cities and towns, with respect to comparable local ballot measures.